YIVO's preservation program dates back to the 1960s, when the Library's European Yiddish newspapers were microfilmed with support from the Ab. Cahan Fund. In the late 1980s, YIVO initiated a comprehensive and long-range program to ensure that its unique collections would remain accessible to future generations. In 1987, YIVO received a three-year matching grant from the S.H. and Helen R. Scheuer Foundation which enabled it to begin the large-scale conservation of its collections. A Preservation Department was established; a conservation laboratory set up; and full-time conservators and microfilmers were hired. The Scheuer grant was followed by gifts from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, and the New York State Library.
In recent years, YIVO's Preservation Department has made considerable strides in stabilizing the institute's most fragile books and documents. Over 7,500 books and 2,700 linear feet of archival documents have been microfilmed; over 750 rare East European Jewish posters have been conserved and encapsulated; and hundreds of deteriorating newspapers have been preserved by being repackaged in acid-free containers. YIVO's world renowned collection of over 45,000 Yiddish books was also rehoused in acid-free coverings.
YIVO's move to the Center for Jewish History accomplished an important part of its preservation mission: the transfer of library and archival collections to climate-controlled storage.
The Center for Jewish History includes state-of-the-art preservation and microfilm laboratories, which serve YIVO and the other institutional partners of the Center. YIVO makes use of these resources and also retains a trained conservator on staff for its ongoing conservation and preservation projects.